A Russian businessman says he has been granted the trademark for the ;-) emoticon and will start charging for its use, the BBC reports. The entrepreneur, president of the Superfone mobile phone advertising company, doesn't plan to go after individual users but intends to ask corporations to pay for a license. The trademark may also cover :-) and :), he said.
Critics doubt the patent claim has any legal basis, and while the businessman says a license to use ;-) "won't cost that much—tens of thousands of dollars," few believe that anybody will be hoodwinked into coughing up. "You're not likely to find any retards in Russia who'll pay Superfone for the use of emoticons," said the chief of a Russian social networking site.